I am basically a very happy person. My parents used to wake up my sisters, brother and me with, “Rise and shine!” That was a great way to start your day for a young kid. It helped me look at life as a challenge with a positive attitude for the later trials of the day.
At a very young age I had a tender heart. I wanted to make a difference in the world. When someone was sad or lonely I wanted to help them feel better. I knew what loneliness was when I started school and found out that not everybody wanted to be my friend like I wanted to be theirs. I realized that not everyone was kind, which was a disturbing bit of knowledge for me. Needless to say, I didn’t always fit in the popular school circles.
My family was not wealthy. My father had to work selling encyclopedias for a while, then other jobs to support our family. We sometimes wore hand-me downs except for what our mother sewed for us or what our grandmother bought for us. But we always had food on the table and our needs were always taken care of with plenty of love from our parents.
I studied hard and made good grades and tried to do things well because I cared about doing things as well as I could. My goals were to be loving and kind: to be a good Christian; to be a good nurse, wife, mother, and friend; and to continue to learn and connect with my world. I think I have accomplished some of these goals and am continuing to improve on some of the rest.
I made mistakes, even failed in some parts of my goals. But I believe even though I had a variety of experiences: weakness; difficult times; sadness; and even emotionally painful experiences, that I improved my attitudes, and skills with the support from my good friends to come through those times. Sometimes I used denial or rationalization to minimize the sorrow or pain until I could cope with those feelings later when I was stronger. My loving family also cared about me helped me and stood by me.
But in spite of the sad times, I believe I had more good times. I wanted to be happy, to enjoy my life. My kids are all grown and married, my husband passed away years ago. Now I live with my cat, Norie. But I am not alone. I can call or chat with those I love on the phone or on Face Chat. I have wonderful neighbors in my condo, who I care deeply about and they feel the same about me. We have all helped each other at one time or another.
My life is calmer, less stressful and has a greater sense of peace. Now I am trying to focus on contributing to my world to make my little “neck of the woods” better. When given an opportunity such as standing in a long line I try to connect with others if they seem open to eye contact, a smile, or even comment on the weather or whatever.
The desire to help others has been there since childhood. I was a nurse for 37 years from New Orleans to Greenville, SC and then here near Raleigh, NC. I cared for people of many races, religions, and creeds. None of that mattered to me. I just wanted to take good care of those entrusted to me.
I try to keep up with situations in my country and the world. I know I can not save the world but I can smile at a stranger who looks sad; give what I can to help others; write these blog posts to share and shine even a little light into wherever there is darkness.
So why should I have joy in my life when so many are suffering. I am not cold-hearted. But we can do what we are led to do to help others. Pray for them; donate money, clothes, whatever we can do; if we have spare time and energy and a free schedule there are all kinds of organizations seeking help for those in need. Re-evaluate our situations periodically for anything else we can do to help others.
Our earth is in a hazardous state. We can not save the world either. But we can recycle plastics, cans, cardboard, cut the rings on can holders so ocean life won’t get their heads stuck in them and die. There is much that we can do together. I love our home planet and do what I am able to do.
But we also need to take care of ourself too. Believe me I know what it is like to want to rescue the world; to alleviate all pain and sickness, to bring humanity back together as a family. Believe me, there is nothing I can do except the praying, donating, showing compassion and love to others and re-evaluating when necessary.
These actions don’t seem like enough sometimes, but perhaps they make me a more loving, caring person who can extend those behaviors to others not out of guilt, shame or pity, but out of love and true compassion and guidance as to what we individually are called to do.
I say that last part because we also must take care of ourselves. Not everyone is called to be a Mother Teresa, a minister, or a great leader. But we are all called to learn how to love and be good people. If we don’t we are not helping anyone but ourselves.